Opened last Dec. 1, Rock Lobster throws its hat into the crowded, and eclectic, dining scene on Toronto’s still-interesting, always evolving Ossington Street strip.
The space is heaps of fun. Think long, narrow room, with hardwood floors and bare-wood tables. Up front, there’s a raw bar —fronted by a case displaying shellfish on ice—and serving the likes of oysters and peel ’n’ eat shrimp.
On the walls, there are irony-laden paintings depicting a Mountie on horseback and an enlarged Canadian stamp. It all feels like a hugely convivial, mildly hipster take on an oyster/seafood bar. Early on a Saturday night, the resto fills with a boisterous crowd treated to vintage Rolling Stones (Exile on Main Street) and Motown on the PA.
The fun continues on the plate, where, true to the restaurant’s name, lobster, in various configurations, reigns. There’s lobster bisque (here, called cappuccino), thin and subtle of flavour; on the side, a toast point topped with lobster salad. The bisque is served in a glass cappuccino cup. Drink and enjoy!
Lobster salad shows up stuffed into a toasted, buttered hot dog bun, accompanied by crunchy house-made potato chips and a mammoth dill pickle.
There’s lobster, generously layered, along with a browned breadcrumb topping, on a creamy mac ’n’ cheese (more cheese, please), a massive plate of food that feeds two generously.
Shrimp and Canadian snowcrab legs arrive wearing a subtle jerk-seasoning marinade. Served along with the requisite shell-cracking and meat-extraction utensils is a fingerbowl, to clean hands made messy by this delish dish—an unexpected and welcome touch in such a casual restaurant.
To finish, there’s one dessert: Called a whale tail, it’s the kitchen’s take on a BeaverTail. It’s made to-order and sweetened with a sprinkling of maple sugar, cinnamon sugar and, around it, dabs of crème anglaise.
It’s as Canadian as icing the puck…and ironic Mountie paintings.
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